Saturday, June 22, 2013

Philosophy Weekend: News from Philosophy in Action

By Diana Hsieh

Every Saturday, I post the news of the week from my primary work, Philosophy in Action, where I apply rational principles to the challenges of real life. Here's this week's update.

Upcoming Radio Shows


Philosophy in Action Radio broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Below are the episodes upcoming this week. I hope that you join us! More upcoming episodes can be found here: Episodes on Tap.

Sunday Morning, 23 June 2013: Q&A on Self-Control, Lying for Surprise, Corrupt Siblings, and More

I'll answer these four questions on the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday morning, 23 June 2013.
  • Question 1: Cultivating Powers of Self-Control: Should a person cultivate his powers of self-control? What is self-control? Is strong capacity for self-control of value? Does self-control have a downside or limits? How can a person develop more self-control?
  • Question 2: Lying for the Sake of a Happy Surprise: Is it ever okay to tell a lie as part of a happy surprise for someone else? This question is from Ryan (age 11) and Morgan (age 8). We bought birthday presents for our brother Sean, and we had to sneak them into the house. We didn't want Sean to know what we were doing. At first, we thought we should make up a story about why we were going back and forth to the car. Morgan thought she should tell Sean she was going outside to swing. But then we talked about how that would be a lie and she decided to go out and actually swing before bringing her present inside, that way there was no lying involved. Should we have told the lie to Sean? Is it okay to tell a lie as part of doing something nice for someone?
  • Question 3: People Too Young to Raise Children: What's the rationale for declaring some physically mature people too young to have children? Given that nature has dictated that both male and female humans can procreate in their early teens and given that morality is deduced from reality, why would sex and procreation at that young age be immoral? Isn't that what nature intended? More generally, is there a rational basis for moral judgments about the proper age of procreation? Or is it purely subjective?
  • Question 4: Dealing with a Morally Corrupt Sibling: How should I respond to my morally corrupt sister? My 20 year old sister is morally destitute. She is an unapologetic shoplifter. Her justifications amount to things like: "My shoplifting is not an addiction because I can stop anytime I want to," "everyone does it," "companies account for shoplifters in their business plans so they mark prices higher to compensate for it," "I'd never steal from a friend," "I need to steal while I look young and can get away with it because no one suspects me," etc. Over the years she has stolen hundreds if not thousands of dollars from our parents, too. She lies and cheats frequently. She's accepted money in return for writing a paper for a friend. She knows what she does is "wrong," and she maintains that such is better than not knowing, at least. (That makes no sense, I know.) I also just found out that she's selling marijuana because, as she says, she needs a way to support her expensive taste in clothes and makeup. She has no integrity or moral conscience. She doesn't care about my horror at her behavior. She does not respond to reason. Part of me wants to help her by trying to talk sense into her. I care about her, and I want her to be a healthy person and not have a miserable life. Another part of me wants to forget her and let her ruin herself. Yet I don't want to stand by and watch that happen, and I also know that there's only so much I can do to really help her. What is the rational thing to do?
The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 23 June 2013. The podcast will be posted later that day. For more details, check out the episode page.

Note: Philosophy in Action Radio will not broadcast on Wednesday, 26 June 2013.


Recent Podcasts


The podcasts of last week's radio shows are now available. Check out the full collection of past radio shows in the archives, sorted by date or by topic. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast RSS feed too.

16 June 2013: Q&A on Ethical Foundations, Broken Relationships, Sex Scandals, and More

I answered these questions on Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio:

What does it mean to say that life is the standard of value? When is a relationship broken beyond repair? Is an armed society a polite society – or a violent society? Should we stop caring about the sex lives of politicians?

You can listen to or download the podcast below, and visit the episode's page for more, including audio files for individual questions.

19 June 2013: Dr. Monica Hughes on "Myths about Evolutionary Theory"

I interviewed biologist Dr. Monica Hughes about "Myths about Evolutionary Theory" on Wednesday's Philosophy in Action Radio:

"Many Americans are woefully ignorant of the basics of evolutionary theory, even while they criticize or reject it. Biologist Monica Hughes explained the basics of evolutionary theory, including some fascinating examples of evolution in action. Then she discussed and dispelled some common myths about it." Monica Hughes received her master's and PhD degrees in mycology and forest pathology at SUNY-ESF (State University of New York College of Environmental and Forest Biology). Broadly trained in aspects of plant and fungal biology, Monica's research is focused on an obscure but diverse group of insect-associated fungi, particularly co-evolution of the fungi with their hosts, and description of new species: her research uncovered roughly 50 new species of fungi from New Zealand, including several new genera. Since obtaining her PhD in 2008, Monica has worked as a biology professor in the Community College system of Colorado and at Regis University in Denver.

You can listen to or download the podcast below, and visit the episode's page for more.

Recent Blog Posts


Here are last week's posts to Philosophy in Action's blog NoodleFood, ordered from oldest to newest. Don't miss a post: subscribe to NoodleFood's RSS Feed.
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